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9 Things Nobody Tells You About The Gili Meno Statues

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Along the west coast of Gili Meno, you’ll find 48 life-size statues of couples embracing and lying down, created by the well-known underwater sculptor: Jason deCaires Taylor. They are known as the Gili Meno statues.

This Gili Meno underwater sculpture was actually based on casts of real people and was commissioned by BASK, a beachfront eco-resort, which is currently being built opposite where the statues can be found. 

The statues are a popular Gili Meno snorkelling spot – and for good reason. They are beautiful and a delight to see. But there’s no denying that they’re also a little spooky, raw and haunting. 

They seek to remind visitors of the many fragile treasures beneath the sea – and they’re harbouring a secret. 

Here’s what nobody tells you about the Gili Meno underwater statues…

Close up of the Gili Meno statues

9 Things Nobody Tells You About The Nest Gili Meno Statues

1. They’re not just a tourist attraction

The BASK Gili Meno statues are one of the most popular Gili Meno snorkelling spots (especially for Instagram photos!).

But there’s more to these hauntingly beautiful statues than first meets the eye. 

They’re made from a pH neutral environmental-grade concrete and have actually been designed to help create a manmade reef where coral can grow… quickly. 

Coral growing on the Gili Meno statues
Coral growing on the Gili Meno statues

2. The Gili Meno statues also have a deeper meaning

Because their purpose is to help coral grow and create a reef for marine life, the Gili Meno statues have a deeper meaning. 

They have been arranged in a circle to represent the circle of life. 

In deCaires Taylor’s own words: “First and foremost Nest is an environmental space. The figures are arranged in a circular formation as an echo of the circle of life, and they will soon teem with life. Soft corals and sponges should flourish quickly paving the way for delicate hard corals and a fully established reef.”

3. It’s forbidden to touch the statues

When you arrive, you’ll probably see people standing on the statues or using them as anchors to help them take photos and videos underwater.

But it’s actually forbidden to touch the statues. 

Corals and sponges are already starting to grow on them, and by touching the statues, you’re preventing them from doing the work they’ve been designed to do. 

Locals and tour companies always tell snorkellers off for touching the statues but word definitely needs to be spread around more!

4. The current is strong around the statues… and they’re very close to a reef drop off

Although you can get to the statues easily and via shallow water from the island of Gili Meno, they’re actually super close to a reef drop off. 

If you don’t know what a reef drop off is then it’s where you can see a large dip or slope in the ocean floor, making the water deeper and a darker blue.

You can see how close the statues are to the reef drop off in this Google Maps satellite image:

Reef Drop Off At Gili Meno Statues
Google Satellite image showing where the reef drop offs are

This might be a little unnerving if you’re a beginner snorkeller; especially as the current, which is quite strong surrounding the statues will try to pull you out and away from them. 

It’s not an issue providing you’re keeping an eye on where you are in relation to the statues and reef drop off, but you may need to swim hard against the current if you start getting pulled away.

5. The underwater sculptures at Gili Meno are also a great place to see fish and other marine life too

Don’t let the Gili Meno statues be the only thing you search for underwater!

You’ll find an abundance of fish and other marine life at the statues and nearby, so be sure to spend some time looking around.

Gili Meno Underwater Statues with Fish All Around

Colourful fish during Gili Meno snorkelling session

6. The statues are popular… but you can see them sans crowds if you go at the right time

While many snorkelling tours from the Gili Islands drop tourists off at the statues, it is possible to see them without crowds if you go at the right time. 

Usually early in the morning (before 9am) and at dusk (around 5pm) are the best times to go and when you’ll see fewer snorkellers around the statues.

7. You have to walk across dead coral to get to the statues from Gili Meno… so you’ll want to wear water shoes

The water is very shallow leading up to the statues from the beach at Gili Meno. This is because of all of the bleached and dead coral that has built up over time. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way of avoiding walking across it, so you’ll want to wear water shoes when you do to protect your feet and make the walk more comfortable.

Scott diving down to the Gili Meno statues
Scott diving down to the Gili Meno statues

8. You can drift along the current to other Gili Meno snorkelling spots nearby

Because of how strong the current is around the statues, this is actually perfect for drift snorkelling when you’ve finished admiring the statues and want to go in search of turtles and lots of colourful fish. 

The current will try to pull you out over the reef drop off slightly, and from here, it follows the island south through the ‘Coral Garden’ and towards the ‘Bounty Wreck’ diving spot. 

Just keep an eye out for boats and other snorkellers as you drift along the current!

9. Or you can pair a visit to the Gili Meno statues with a romantic sunset

For those of you staying on Gili Meno or making your own way to see the statues, you’ll be able to time your visit to catch a sunset afterwards. 

The best place to see sunsets on Gili Meno is along the northern side of the island, which should only take you about 20 minutes to walk to from the beach near the statues. 

There are also a few bars along here that have put out colourful bean bags on the beach, so you can truly chill out while watching the sun set over nearby Gili T.

Slainte Irish Bar, Gili Meno

Gili Meno Statues Location & How To See Them

The Gili Meno statues are just off the west coast of Gili Meno, Indonesia, which is the island in the middle of Gili Trawangan and Gili Air:

If you’re staying on the island of Gili Meno itself, then look for the large BASK sign on the beach near the Saltwater Lake. You can’t miss it!

BASK Gili Meno Sign

The statues are around 100 metres from this sign and the water leading up to them is so shallow that you can actually walk most of the way. 

The statues are also only 4 metres below the surface, so they make for a perfect Gili Meno snorkelling spot!

Justine snorkelling above the Gili Meno statues

If you’re staying on Gili Air or Gili Trawangan instead, then you’d need to head to the statues location by boat. Again, the large BASK sign on the beach should help you see where to stop.

Gili Meno Statues Tours From Gili Trawangan and Lombok

Alternatively, you can join one of many Gili Meno statues tours from Gili T or Lombok.

We like to use Get Your Guide for all our tours as they usually have plenty of choice and great deals. 

Not to mention you can read other travellers’ reviews and Get Your Guide also has a very generous cancellation policy allowing you to cancel your tour up to 24 hours before… without incurring any fees!

But you should also be able to arrange your own snorkelling tours when you get to the Gili Islands too if you prefer.

Gili Meno Statues Tours From Gili Trawangan

Check out these tours to see the Gili Meno statues during a snorkelling tour from Gili Trawangan:

Gili Meno Statues Tours From Lombok

Or check out these tours to see the Gili Meno statues and other popular Gili Islands snorkelling spots from Lombok:

Click here to see more Gili Islands snorkelling tours on Get Your Guide >>

Gili Meno Underwater Statues

More Epic Gili Meno Snorkelling Spots

When you just can’t get enough of snorkelling near Gili Meno, here’s where else you can go for colourful corals, large schools of fish and even the occasional turtle!

Coral Garden

From the Gili Meno statues, you can drift south along the current, which takes you over what locals call the ‘Coral Garden’. 

As the name suggests, this area is teeming with corals and marine life. You may even spot a turtle or two!

Coral and clam underwater near Gili Meno
Finding coral and clams during a Gili Meno snorkelling session

Bounty Wreck

South of the Gili Meno statues and along the same current as the Coral Garden is the ‘Bounty Wreck’, which is a sunken jetty 30 metres down and covered in hard and soft corals. 

Although this is usually a popular diving spot; when the water is particularly clear, you can just make out the jetty even when snorkelling. 

That aside, this area is a haven for large schools of different fish.

Turtle Point

On the opposite side of the island from the Gili Meno statues is another popular snorkelling spot known as ‘Turtle Point’. 

You can get to it by walking out to sea from the Warung Bungalows in the north east.

As the name suggests, it’s the perfect area for spotting turtles even when snorkelling. We were only in the water ourselves for twenty minutes and Scott had already seen two of them! 

You’ll need to get quite close to the reef drop off in order to find turtles; so watch the current, which will try to pull you south, as well as diving boats that regularly moor nearby. 

If you’re new to snorkelling or are a less confident swimmer, then you’d be best staying in the shallower parts of the water, where you can still see an abundance of marine life and plenty of fish, urchins and mantis shrimp.

Gili Meno Snorkelling
Colourful fish and corals at Turtle Point, Gili Meno

Don’t Miss: Diving At Turtle Heaven!

We couldn’t possibly talk about turtles near Gili Meno without mentioning ‘Turtle Heaven’.

This popular diving spot just north of Gili Meno is great for beginners and advanced divers alike – and is where turtles are pretty much guaranteed! 

We saw six huge Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles here ourselves, which were either sleeping or swimming up to the surface. It was an incredible experience and is well worth scuba diving lessons if you have time and want to go beyond snorkelling. 

There are two dive schools on Gili Meno: Blue Marlin Dive and Gili Meno Divers. We personally went with Blue Marlin Dive, which was our first time diving. 

We had a pool session early in the morning to get used to the equipment and breathing techniques, and by lunchtime, we were 13 metres down and surrounded by colourful coral, thousands of fish, and of course, the turtles we’ve already talked about.

Read More About Gili Meno & Plan Your Trip

Read our other Indonesia travel blogs to help you plan your trip to Gili Meno and other top places to visit in Indonesia:

We hope you’ve found this blog post helpful for visiting the Gili Meno statues! But more importantly, we hope it has inspired you to be a little more mindful when you do. 

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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